Livio Suppo’s big MotoGP preview: “Vinales the surprise, Martin to win title?”

Livio Suppo insists that Jorge Martin is among 12 realistic title contenders as the MotoGP 2023 season edges nearer.
Jorge Martin, Pramac Ducati MotoGP Silverstone
Jorge Martin, Pramac Ducati MotoGP Silverstone

The 2023 MotoGP calendar has thrown up a new format of 21 rounds, 42 races, including MotoGP Sprint races which are the source of controversy.

"I expect a very tight season,” ex-Honda and Suzuki boss Suppo said. “We’ve had four world champions in the last four years – Marc Marquez, Joan Mir, Fabio Quartararo and Francesco Bagnaia. It means the sport is very balanced. It’s not like what we saw a few years ago where Marc was dominating.

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"We’ve gone from the ‘Fantastic Four’ of Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa to probably the fantastic 12 now. 

“There’s nobody that is clearly stronger than the others, except Marc if he can get back to what we saw in 2019. And we still don’t know if that is possible or not."

Ducati to dominate?

"Ducati has a very strong team,” Suppo said. “Not only in the factory team but also at Pramac, because I strongly believe that Jorge Martin is a title contender."

Can Yahama deliver for Quartararo?

Fabio Quartararo, Valencia MotoGP test, 8 November
Fabio Quartararo, Valencia MotoGP test, 8 November

"Fabio is Fabio," said Suppo. "He proved to be both very fast and very strong mentally because it’s not easy to do what he did in the past two years – being the only one able to be fast on a bike that everyone else complained isn’t good enough. 

“If Yamaha can give him a bit more top speed, then Fabio will absolutely be there."

Fluke for Aprilia?

"It won’t be easy for Aprilia to prove that what happened last year wasn’t a fluke,” Suppo said. 

“What’s happened with them in the past few years is almost like a miracle. They’ve come from nothing and in such a short time they’ve improved a lot. Aprilia is doing a great job. 

“I have a lot of trust in Manu Cazeaux, who is now crew chief to Maverick Vinales. He’s one of the cleverest engineers that I’ve ever seen. 

“He’s very intelligent, empathetic and strong. He’s very good at motivating his riders.

Maverick Vinales, Valencia MotoGP test, 8 November
Maverick Vinales, Valencia MotoGP test, 8 November

“I know Maverick really wanted Manu with him when he went to Yamaha but Manu believed in the Suzuki project and stayed there. 

“But their relationship is very, very strong, so I believe Maverick could be the big surprise in 2023."

KTM have ‘one of the strongest riders’

"KTM have done a lot of things to improve when it comes to hiring people and changing their structure,” said Suppo. 

“It’s [technical director] Fabiano Sterlacchini’s second season there and now other Italian engineers have joined the squad.

"I believe that will help Fabiano to improve the bike quicker. They’ve added very experienced people and, importantly, they’re now Fabiano’s people. This means a lot. 



“It’s one thing working with the people you find in the company, sometimes you can be lucky and find people that you like and that share the same ideas, but now he’s signed his own people, people he believes KTM really needs. So, I’m confident they’re about to make a step forward.

"Jack Miller is Jack, we know he can be fast. Plus, with Brad Binder, they have one of the strongest riders out there. 

“Then they also have their satellite team, which is now far more organised than before. The change of name isn’t just a marketing tool but from what I understand they will have four factory bikes on track."

Honda excuses?

"Honda now has two former world champions," said Suppo. "A rider who won two of the last three races and Takaaki Nakagami, who has proved he is far from a slow rider.

"They don’t have any rookies, they don’t have anyone there for other reasons. They have four good riders.

"Three of them are able to win races, two of them win a championship, so they cannot blame the riders if the performance isn’t there. There are no excuses."

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